SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Playing their third road game in as many days, the weary Portland Pirates were beaten 2-1 by the Springfield Falcons Sunday at the MassMutual Center
The Pirates have lost three straight, scoring one goal in each loss.
“We worked hard and we battled,” Pirates Coach Roy Edwards said. “It’s always hard to win in this league and this was a tough trip. I thought we had a good effort, but it just wasn’t enough.”
The Pirates ran into a desperate Springfield team, which had lost five straight games — its only two victories since Nov. 18 coming against the Pirates.
“When you score only three goals in three games, it puts a lot of pressure on your goaltenders,” Edwards said.
Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves and kept his team in the game.
“Our goalies have been excellent,” Edwards said. “We got great goaltending (today).”
The Pirates played well defensively and killed off all four Springfield power plays.
“We’ve got to find that five percent more,” Edwards said. “I’m proud of the way we worked. I just wish we could have found a little more to finish it.”
Brock Trotter missed a great chance to send the game into overtime.
He had an open net with rookie goalie Allen York down, but hit the post.
After Saturday night’s 7-1 loss to Hershey, the Pirates took a 6-hour bus ride and arrived in Springfield at 3:30 a.m. for Sunday’s 3 p.m. matinee.
Springfield was also playing the third time in as many days and play was often ragged.
“It’s definitely tough, but it’s something we’ve all done before, whether in junior or here,” said Pirates defenseman Nick Ross. “You never get used to it, but it’s not new.”
The Pirates, who fell to 4-6-1-1 on the road, were outscored 13-3 in the last three games and play their next three on the road, too — at Adirondack Friday, at Bridgeport Saturday and at Manchester Sunday.
“We had a good effort and we’ve just got to tell ourself to calm down, be supportive of everyone and if you do the right things in practice, it’s going to turn around,” Ross said.
Portland’s fatigue may have been a factor when Springfield scored the go-ahead goal during the waning seconds of the second period. Alexandre Giroux got the goal with 14.3 seconds remaining.
Defenseman Brett Lebda sent a pass to Martin St. Pierre in the left corner. St. Pierre delivered a backhand pass to the slot, where Giroux one-timed it past McElhinney.
“A couple of little mistakes and that’s the game,” Ross said.
The Pirates pulled even 1-1 early in the second period when Brett MacLean scored. MacLean powered a pass from Marc-Antoine Pouliot past goalie Manny Legace.
Legace was shaken up when he was leveled by Trotter in the second period, but stayed in for the remainder of the period before being replaced by York to start the third.
Trotter was given a minor penalty for goaltender interference. The Pirates killed off the penalty without allowing a shot on goal.
Dane Byers scored the only goal of the first period, his third in two games. Following a collision, a lane opened for Byers, who took a pass from Andrew Jourdey and scored on a partial breakaway at 12:25.
“We did make some strides in the right direction,” Edwards said. “We’ll take those positives and move on.”
NOTES: The Coyotes recalled defenseman Chris Summers on an emergency basis on Sunday.
It was the second recall of the season for Summers, who has appeared in 14 games with the Pirates.